Thursday, 28 August 2008

Richard and Judy - all is forgiven...

Oonagh Robinson and Jennifer Scott look back at the week's TV....

THE secret of a successful TV quiz show is that it must appear ludicrously simple while, in fact, being hair-tearingly difficult.
Just think of the greats – Millionaire or that thing with Noel Edmonds and some boxes – and you’ll see they all adopt this formula.
The prize must dangle frustratingly out of reach. Which is where Perfect Recall (C4, week-nights) makes its first mistake. It’s all too easy.
Basically, every single round of the quiz contains different questions – but the same 20 answers. Once you’ve guessed them the first time, it’s just a case of remembering them and repeating them again... and again... and again... Yawn.
Dear old Terry Wogan was the presenter of this tripe. He was giving it a touch of the old blarney, as you’d expect. But no amount of blarney could disguise the fact this show’s a bit of a dud.
In fact, we think it’s quite ironic Toggish Sir Tel’s been asked to present something called Perfect Recall.
He is, after all, the man who famously named the wrong contestant as Britain’s Eurovision entry two years ago.
At least he managed to get the winner right this time – and he remembered his name too.
But that’s not much to shout about, is it?
Bring back Richard and Judy, we say.

MUTUAL Friends (BBC1, Tues) is one of those modern comedy dramas that isn’t very comedic or dramatic.
It’s also extremely predictable, full of clich├ęd characters and a complete rip-off of everything from Cold Feet to This Life with a bit of Love, Actually thrown in.
But for some reason, we really enjoyed it.
It’s all about a group of attractive, successful and a bit wacky university friends heading for their 40s who are brought together again when one of their number, Carl, walks under a train one day.
The main action centres on married couple Martin and Jen, played by Marc Warren and Keeley Hawes (who’s about 550 times better in this than she is in Ashes to Ashes).
Of course, their relationship is going through a shaky stage and isn’t helped at all by Jen’s revelation that she slept with Carl. And her son blabs about it to Carl’s widow. And Jen throws Martin out for telling everyone. Or something.
Thrown into the mix is Martin’s eccentric but lovable friend Patrick (Alexander Armstrong in full Pimm’s O’Clock mode). He owns an E-type Jag and runs a successful catalogue business. Probably Boden, we reckon.
So what happens?
Martin and Jen bicker a lot, their son Dan is lonely, neglected and sad, Patrick is a bit of a tosser... Oh, it doesn’t really matter what happens, OK?
The performances are all good, the pace is great and everyone looks like they’re having a right old laugh.
No one’s going to win any awards for this, but we can see it becoming a huge hit with viewers over the next couple of weeks...

DO yourself a favour. Go on the BBC iPlayer and watch the recently repeated episodes of fab family sit-com Outnumbered which is due a second series in a few weeks. You probably missed its original run due to daft scheduling but you’ll at least get a flavour of the fantastic characters, like naughty Ben, a lispy young Alan Davies look-alike. It’s everything My Family isn’t. And, yes, – that is a good thing.